Studying Contemporary American Film

Author: 
Elsaesser, Thomas & Buckland, Warren

Chapter 9 is entitled "Feminism, Foucault and Deleuze (The Silence of the Lambs)." It discusses a shift in thinking in film theory, from Freud/Lacan to Foucault/Deleuze. pp. 264-281 provide an introduction to Deleuze's philosophy, and the issue of which Deleuze we use (and indeed, which of his concepts) when analysing film? This text briefly explores the body without organs, becoming, and the fold. Finally it provides a Deleuzian interpretation of the Hollywood film Silence of the Lambs.

How should the student set about analysing contemporary American cinema? This book takes an innovative approach to film analysis: each chapter examines the assumptions behind one traditional theory of film, distills a method of analysis from it, and then analyses a contemporary American movie. It then goes beyond the traditional theory by analysing the same movie using a more current theory and method. Traditional theories featured include mise en scene criticism, auteurism, structural analysis, narratology, studies of realism, psychoanalysis, and feminism. More current theories include new and post-Lacanian approaches to subjectivity, cognitivism, computerised statistical style analysis, the philosophy of modal logic, new media theory, and deconstruction. Films analysed include Chinatown, Die Hard, The Silence of the Lambs, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Back to the Future, Lost Highway, plus two European imitations of American filmmaking, The English Patient and The Fifth Element. All students of film and popular culture will find this book ideal preparation for writing clear, well-structured, detailed analysis of their favourite American movies.

Citation: 
Elsaesser, Thomas & Buckland, Warren, Studying Contemporary American Film, London: Arnold, 2002.